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TiredOfRelocating wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • Does the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when exercised correctly and completely, make the penitent worthy to receive Holy Communion with Christ?
  • If not, why? (What's still missing?)
  • If yes, then why must those who have sincerely done their prescribed penance say the prayer of the Centurion during the Holy Communion rite?

In this life, are we never really worthy of God's friendship.

Mike, I'm praying for your work situation to improve. I've benefited from your ministry and will be relaying that to your pastor.

I'll also be praying about making a donation.


  { If we are worth after receiving a valid Confession to receive the Eucharist, why say this prayer? }

Mike replied:

Dear TiredOfRelocating,

You said:

  • Does the Sacrament of Reconciliation, when exercised correctly and completely, make the penitent worthy to receive Holy Communion with Christ?
  • If not, why? (What's still missing?)
  • If yes, then why must those who have sincerely done their prescribed penance say the prayer of the Centurion during the Holy Communion rite?

In this life, are we never really worthy of God's friendship.

Yes, it does make the penitent worthy to receive Holy Communion. We said that pre-Communion prayer before receiving the Blessed Sacrament for the reason you gave:

  • because:
    • we are really never worthy to receive God-incarnate and
    • everything we have received, has been purely because of His grace.
  • a second possible reason, would be for any minor sins we have committed between the time we finished our penance (from our Saturday Confession) to the start of Sunday
    (or Saturday Vigil) Mass.

The Catechism says this on the topic:

1386 Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: "Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea" ("Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed."). And in the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom the faithful pray in the same spirit:

O Son of God, bring me into communion today with your mystical supper. I shall not tell your enemies the secret, nor kiss you with Judas' kiss. But like the good thief I cry, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

I hope this helps.

Thank-you for the kind words about our ministry. I could never have done this by myself. I have a fine team of regular faithful Catholic apologists and back-up helpers, though I get no encouragement from my pastor.

Thanks also for praying about my work situation; as I am still unemployed. It's a mystery to me.
I live in the fourth largest population of Catholics in the United States, Boston, and there appear to be no practicing Catholics who wish to hire me; just scandalous Catholics who are giving Massachusetts its bad name. Note: I have a B.S. in Computer Science and two other Web certifications.


John replied:

Dear TiredOfRelocating,

Mike is right and he's wrong.

First, lets deal with where he's right.

Even if we had never sinned and were Immaculately conceived, we wouldn't be worthy. God doesn't give Himself to us because we are worthy. He gives Himself to us because He loves us.

I'm going to digress for a moment to just emphasize my point.

You said:
In this life, are we never really worthy of God's friendship.

I suspect you have a skewed understanding about God. God desires a relationship with us. He is offended by sin, because sin is something that hurts us. God is Love in His very nature. By love, I'm not talking about emotion. I'm talking about a total self-giving. That's all God knows how to do. He loves and gives Himself to His creation.

When we reject this love, He still keeps loving us. But if we reject His love, His love becomes a source of torment, not joy. It's not that he's tormenting us. It is our rejection of His love that causes the torment.

God is concerned with life and death, not good and evil. He forbids evil because it causes death.

So we shouldn't be thinking of God as someone who is trying to prevent us from being with Him. He is not looking for a reason to keep us way. It's just the total opposite. He's trying to get us to come back to Him. He wants to forgive. He created us out of love so we might fellowship with Him.

God is also not vain. He doesn't want us to worship Him because He needs us to tell Him how great He is. God is humble. He wants us to worship Him out of love. He's trying to make us more and more like Him so when we praise Him, when we tell Him we are not worthy, we are acknowledging His love is unconditional and we want to return that love unconditionally.

So how is Mike wrong — or sort of wrong.

We are all worthy because God loves us. We are His idea. We are the Crowning Jewel of His Creation and since we are the end result of God's love, we are always worthy.

So it's a paradox. We really can't grasp this Mystery fully, we just need to accept it, meditate upon it, and enter into it. Really think about it, God has nothing better to do with His time then to be with us. Rather that's all He wants to do with His time and that's kind of mind-shattering. Think about it. The God that made everything we can see and not see, wants to be with each one of us, individually. He doesn't just love us, He actually likes us ... and this is in spite of our sins.

But we need to stop looking at Him as this judge looking for a reason to condemn us. It's not a Master-Slave relationship. It's a Father-Son relationship. Yes, a father punishes his son from time to time, but only for the son's own good.

Now let's talk specifically about why we pray the Centurion's prayer.

The Mass is nothing less then a participation in the Divine Heavenly Liturgy we see described in the book of Revelation. Throughout Revelation, we see a constant reference to who is worthy. Even the great Apostle John, the man who was closest to Jesus in the human sense while Jesus walked the earth, fell to the ground when He saw Him in His Glory. Throughout the liturgical movements in chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation we see and hear motions and phrases that remind us that only one is truly worthy and that Jesus is the Lamb of God.

  • He's worthy because His Love was so unconditional that He died for all of us.
  • His love is so unconditional that He died for those who hated Him.
  • He demonstrated as a man, the Second Adam, the total self-giving nature of the Father and the Father's love.

So as we receive Holy Communion we remind ourselves that we are not worthy, except by virtue of His making us part of Him.

I hope this helps.


Paul replied:

Mike, John, et al.,

I too have always had a problem with reciting this Centurion's line before going up to Communion — not the "being worthy" part of this question, — but in the second part of the visitor's question.

It seems to make no sense logically to repeat,

"...but only say the word and my soul shall be healed."

Why? Because the entire line parallels us to the scene of the Centurion who asks Jesus not to go to his home to heal his servant, but to do it from afar instead.

Hence, to compare the line to what we are about to do in the Mass, it would translate:

"Lord I am not worthy to have you enter into my body, but instead only say the word (from afar) and I shall be healed."

Staying in the pew after saying those words would make sense. Going up to have Him "enter under my roof" does not.

If we were to go up to Communion then the line would more logically be:

"Lord I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof, but thank you for making worthy to do so."

  • Does anyone see the apparent contradiction I'm pointing to?



John replied:

Hi Paul —

I've had similar issues. I don't like the insertion of my soul. It seems to deny the fact the God heals body and soul; and it winds up being a miss quote of the Scriptures. I understand the intent, but I agree that it misses the mark, especially since we have just witnessed Calvary through which we've been made worthy.

I would be curious as to when this prayer was put in to the Roman Rite and if there is anything similar to this in the any of the Eastern Rites.

It sounds to me like it was something added in the West in middle ages when fire, brim stone, and the fear of God weren't balanced with a good dose of love and mercy.


Richard replied:

Hi, guys —

The statement already refers to both body and soul! When the faithful speak of my roof, they are symbolically referring to the body, as a house.

The Lord wants to meet with us through our physical contact with the sacrament, and though finite man is unworthy, we accede to Christ's wishes.

— RC

Paul replied:

Richard —

After that line in Scripture, Christ does not enter under the Centurion's roof but heals his servant from afar.

If we remained in our pew and asked for God's healing, without Him entering under the roof of our bodies, it would be consistent, yet, we say the prayer and then go up to receive Holy Communion.

  • Isn't this a contradiction?


Richard replied:

Paul —

There are two possibilities.

  1. The verse may have been added to the Mass at a time when preparation for Communion was more rigorous than now. Then the verse would be an aid to Spiritual Communion for those who did not receive The Sacrament.

  2. Or it may be a preparation for Communion, in which case, it highlights that we receive a gift greater than the Centurion's.

— RC

Mike replied:

HI Paul,

Here's my take on your conundrum.

We say, similar to the Centurion:

Lord, I am not worth that you should enter my roof, but only say the word and my [soul|daughter] shall be healed.

Between a Saturday Confession and Sunday Mass, we may have committed minor faults in our life. Nevertheless, we are asking Our Lord to heal us of these minor faults from afar, as the Centurion's daughter was healed from afar, in our pew, so we may be confidently prepared to receive Him in Holy Communion time as pure temples of the Holy Spirit.

Yes, venial sins do not keep us from receiving Holy Communion, only mortal sins do but the primary purpose of the Eucharist is Communion, not healing, so I'm guessing the Church is
using this text in a and—both manner rather than an either—or manner.

If someone has gone to Confession on Saturday and for some reason arrivals at Mass after the "Lord I am not worth" prayer, and gets at the end of the line, there is no reason at all why they can't receive.


Richard replied:

I think it's problematic to say that we are always worthy.

We can say that man is made for friendship with God and yet, as mere finite creatures, we do not deserve, on our own account, that the infinite, good. God befriends us.

Also, when man is not in the state of grace, he is particularly unworthy of friendship with the
Holy God, and yet God, who is rich in mercy, forgives our sins, and gives us the gift of sanctifying grace, which makes us, in fact, friends of God.

So there is a distinction:

  • of ourselves, we are not worthy;
  • but we are made worthy as a gift.

The Centurion's words in the liturgy express this truth and further express faith in the goodness, mercy, and generosity of God.

— RC

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